Research studies have found that Campral can be effective in helping people reduce their alcohol use. However, Campral is not designed to be used alone in the treatment of alcohol use disorders.
Campral (acamprosate) is a prescription medication that was formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an adjunctive treatment (additional treatment to be used in combination with standard treatment) for alcohol use disorders.
It was approved in 2004. Campral is one of three medications that the FDA has formally approved to treat alcohol use disorders.
The way Campral works is not fully understood by researchers. It is believed to work on different sets of brain chemicals or neurotransmitters.
By reducing the activity of the excitatory neurotransmitter NMDA and increasing the effectiveness of GABA, it is believed that Campral addresses cravings and urges in individuals who have alcohol use disorders. However, these assumptions are speculative at best. The complete mechanism of action associated with Campral use is not fully understood.
Randomized placebo-controlled double-blind research studies (studies that compare the use of the medication to a placebo and where neither the researchers or the participants know if they are getting the medication or a placebo) have suggested that Campral can sometimes lower rates of drinking in individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorders. Single studies have been mixed in their findings.
Meta-analytic research studies combine the effects of many different types of similar studies to determine if there is an overall effect of some type of intervention on some type of disorder or condition. These studies are considered to be more reliable than studies that only use a single sample because they use many different samples of research participants.
Several important meta-analytic studies have looked at the effectiveness of Campral in treating alcohol use disorders.
However, all of these studies also identified important factors that can affect the results one can get if they are using Campral.
The very large meta-analytic research studies above have relevant meanings if you have an alcohol use disorder. The overall research findings indicate the following:
One of the biggest drawbacks to using medications is that they produce side effects.
All medications carry the risk of side effects, but Campral appears to have relatively few side effects.
The most common side effects that occur in people who use Campral are:
In very rare cases, suicidal thoughts have been recorded in people who use Campral. If you take Campral and think you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or an allergic reaction, contact your physician immediately.
There is ongoing research investigating the use of Campral for other substance abuse issues. At the time of this writing, there is not enough evidence to suggest it is effective in reducing cravings for other substances of abuse, like cocaine, opioids, and others.”
If you have an alcohol use disorder, Campral may help you if:
Campral will not:
(May 2016). Acamprosate. MedlinePlus. from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604028.html
(March 2010). Acamprosate: A prototypic neuromodulator in the treatment of alcohol dependence. CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2853976/
(November 2013). Results of a double‐blind, placebo‐controlled pharmacotherapy trial in alcoholism conducted in Germany and comparison with the US COMBINE study. Addiction Biology. from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acer.12010
(January 2004). The Efficacy of Acamprosate in the Maintenance of Abstinence in Alcohol-Dependent Individuals: Results of a Meta-Analysis. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745302
(January 2008). Acamprosate Supports Abstinence, Naltrexone Prevents Excessive Drinking: Evidence from a Meta-analysis with Unreported Outcomes. Journal of Psychopharmacology. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18187529
(February 2013). Meta‐analysis of Naltrexone and Acamprosate for Treating Alcohol Use Disorders: When are These Medications most Helpful?. Addiction. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970823/
(June 2015). The Efficacy of Acamprosate and Naltrexone in the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence, Europe versus the Rest of the World: A Meta-analysis. Addiction. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25664494
(2009). Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 49. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64041/